Following public scandals regarding the VW vehicle emissions and widespread tax avoidance schemes, the EU has said that it intends to introduce legislation to protect whistle-blowers. This appears to be limited to employees who blow the whistle on corporate tax avoidance or cheating on product standards.
The law would give whistle-blowers protected status, including the right to legal aid and possible financial support. Companies would be banned from firing or demoting whistle-blowers and face “dissuasive” penalties for seeking to block employees seeking to uncover wrongdoing.
EU member states will be responsible for deciding on details, such as the type of sanctions, in domestic legislation. The UK already protects individuals who raise protected disclosures in the public interest - but this proposal appears to go further and provide "super protection" for certain categories of whistle-blower.
The draft law will be revised by EU governments and the European parliament, a process that usually takes 18-24 months. Although the law will only come into force until after the UK leaves the EU, the British government may find it forms part of core EU standards that must be respected to secure a far-reaching trade deal.
Proponents of an EU whistleblower law argue it could have led to earlier exposure of the VW emissions scandal. Systematic cheating on clean-air tests at Europe’s largest car manufacturer was uncovered by the US Environmental Protection Agency.